3 Things to Do in a Storm

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet!  Be still!”  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm… “Who is this?  Even the wind and waves obey him!”          Mark 4:38-39, 41 NIV

When the Lord calls you to do something, don’t be surprised if a storm comes up.  This is what happened to Jesus disciples.  They were doing exactly what Jesus had told them, heading where Jesus wanted them to go when a storm blew in.  The disciples weren’t just rattled, they were deeply terrified.  “Lord, don’t you care if we die?!”  they cried.  At this Jesus awoke, rose up, spoke, and all was calm.

When a storm rises in our heart or blows in to our lives, we should cry out to God like the disciples.  They didn’t pray a pretty prayer.  It wasn’t polished or composed.  It was honest, desperate and uncensored.  “Lord, don’t you care….?” they cried.  Storms will bring these kinds of prayers up and out of us.  And that is important.

When we cry out to Jesus, he will take command.  Our voices have no authority over wind and waves. But Jesus voice carries authority over all he has made.  Everything.  And everyone.  We should wait for him to speak to whatever assails, “Quiet down!”  “Stop that!”  “Be still!”  He will.

The disciples made it through.  They arrived where Jesus wanted them to go.  They were tossed about, but they weren’t traumatized.  Yes, their clothes were wet and their hair was windblown, but their hearts were awash in wonder.  “Who is this, that even the winds and waves obey him?!”  they now cried, for they had witnessed things they thought were impossible.

Like these disciples I often think I need to wake Jesus up to what is happening with me; I act like I’m pounding on God’s door, “Help me bail this water!  I’m going under!”  But the truth is Jesus wants to awaken me to who he truly is, because I don’t know.  And storms wash my eyes.  Their waves beat up against my doubts and break into my small view of God.  Storms shake me up to the fact that Jesus is far more than I ever thought he was.  And when I pass through them, I arrive on the other side to find a good chunk of my false beliefs washed away, and my doubts over what God can do dissipated.  Like the disciples, I’m wet and windblown yes, but greater still I’m on my knees wonderstruck and worshipping, saying “Jesus, I had no idea you are so powerful!  Forgive me.  I didn’t know you don’t bail water!”

Where do you need Jesus power and “Peace be still” today?  Will you let him awaken you to his command of things?

Pray an honest prayer.
Let Him speak to what threatens.
Prepare to be awestruck.

 

“Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, the clouds you so much dread,
are big with mercy and will break, in blessing on your head.”
– William Cowper

 

A Lesson in Gethsemane

I am reading about a scene in the garden of Gethsemane.  The disciples are sad, confused, and feeling threatened.  Nothing is going as they would choose.  When the soldiers come to arrest Jesus they don’t know how to handle things, “Lord, shall we strike with our swords?” they ask.  Peter doesn’t wait for Jesus to answer, but instead lashes out and cuts off a soldier’s ear.

Maybe you can relate to Peter.  Something is going to pieces around you and you don’t like it.  You feel threatened and anxious.  An injustice is happening and you’re used to drawing your sword.  You don’t know what else to do but cut off an ear.  Aren’t battles fought with aggressive action?  Piercing words?  If cutting off an ear isn’t the right response in these moments, what is?

We don’t have to wonder.  If we listen in on what Jesus said to Peter, we will hear what he may be telling us.  Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place… Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”  Matthew 26:52-54 NIV

Jesus is giving Peter three truths here.  First, Peter is to put his sword back in its place.  Reacting in his usual and natural way will not work in this situation.  Secondly, no matter how things appear Jesus is in authority.  John’s gospel reports that when the Roman soldiers arrived on this scene, Jesus did not hide or hang back, but went straight to them and asked, “Who is it you want?”  When Jesus told the soldiers who he was, the entire detachment fell to the ground.  A strong indication of who was in charge of the moment.  Yes, Jesus could call on the angels.  But it wouldn’t be right.  Why?  That brings us to truth three.  Jesus came to fulfill the scriptures.  He came to prove God’s word true, to fulfill each promise and prophecy God had made through the generations.  He was here to bring salvation to people, exactly the way God said it would come.  Through the cross.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel threatened and anxious I tend to lash out.  I can see now that’s the wrong response.  It hurts others and it does not fulfill God’s plan.  I love this scene in the garden, because it gives me a blueprint for walking through things.  I want to learn to handle hard moments like Jesus did, honoring God and his word.  Next time I face a threat and cry, “Lord, shall I strike with my sword?”, I want to remember this scene, listen, and pray.  I want to hear Jesus say, “I’m in control.”  I want to put away the sword of my flesh, take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and ask a new question.  “Lord, what scripture do you want to see fulfilled in me?”  (After all, this is why I read the Bible, to know when and how to apply what is written in it, to find myself and my answers there.)  I want to learn to kneel in that garden and like Jesus pray this prayer, “Show me Lord, how to act in a way that proves your word true, your love deep, your redemption real.  Show me how to live in a way that brings salvation.”

The character and nature of Jesus is amazing in this scene.  Jesus was going through a horrendous trial, more awful than anything we could face.  And he could have been gratified that it appeared someone was standing up for him, that they cared enough to cut off an ear.  But Jesus wasn’t at all gratified by that.  He wasn’t looking for someone to cut off an ear for him.  And he doesn’t want us looking for that either.  When we are living to make people pay, we have a problem.  We’re missing the greater sacrifice.  Jesus sacrifice.  Jesus came to get us out of the eye for eye and ear for ear system.  Jesus didn’t cut off an ear as a badge of his love for us, he suffered in his own self.  He did not strike.  He was stricken.  He did not make another person pay.  He paid.  His life’s blood is on the purchase agreement of our souls.  So let’s not be looking for ears.  Jesus alone is worthy of our constant gaze.  And highest praise.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.    Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV

 

 

I Do

Hands Of A Bride And Groom

Jake was wooing me. Over meals, on walks and through talks Jake shared with me who he was, what he believed in, and where he felt he was headed in this life. He told me he loved me. Then he asked me to marry him. Would I be joined with him forever in love, life and purpose? I have to admit his proposal was a little scary. I knew that Jake was a man who would think nothing of living without electricity in the African bush. If I said “yes” where would he take me? What would I end up doing?

I couldn’t know that. I could only believe and trust. Believe that he loved me and trust his love to blanket each decision he made about us. When I stood at the altar and said “yes” to Jake I wasn’t placing my trust in a wedding ring, a special ceremony or even in the “institute of marriage.” I was trusting in him.

Jesus came into our world. He has shown us who he is. We see that he is brave and kind, that he saves people from horrible things, that he always forgives, and that he loves to the death. Jesus has invited us to accept his love and join him in his purpose. We can’t know ahead of time all the places he will lead us, but we can know that his plans for us will be covered in his love. When we say “yes” to Jesus, we’re not trusting in a cross around our necks, a special prayer or ceremony, or even in the “institute of religion.” We are trusting in Him.

Jesus has said, “I love you. I will never leave you.” He’s made his promises. He said, “I do.” Will you?

                           “…we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16

Just As He Said

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Jesus’ disciples should have known what was coming that morning, they really should have.  Jesus told them he would be raised to life after three days, so why wasn’t everyone hanging around the tomb on that Easter morning, excited, expectant?  Why were his followers somewhere else, cowering, despairing, disappointed, afraid?  Maybe for the same reason I hide, or cower, despair and fear…  Because I don’t believe what Jesus has said.  If I did, wouldn’t I be near that tomb, standing in that hard place?  That difficult place that whispers, “This thing is over with, it’s sealed, dead.”

Thankfully, the resurrection of Jesus never depended on his follower’s faith in his words.  Thankfully there was no belief meter deciding if everything came true, deciding if he would come through for doubters and skeptics and flagging friends and misguided enemies…  Jesus said he would rise and he did.  He did it in spite of the frowns, suspicions, and sealed tomb.  With no help from a cheering section or venture capitalist, he rose.  Just as he said.

And then, it gets better.  He walks through the doors people were too scared to open and says, not “What’s wrong with you, why didn’t you believe me?”  Not, “Well, you don’t get much now after the way you behaved.”  No.  He walks through doors people were too scared to open, passes right through walls they’ve been hiding behind, and says, “Peace be with you!”  Halleluiah, what a Savior!

Makes me want to run to the tomb, doesn’t it you?  Makes me want to run to that hard and sad and carefully guarded, sealed, dead thing and stand there.  Stand there all alone if I have to, waiting, for the third day.  Waiting, because I’ve learned that Jesus will do… just as he said.    

                       “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”  Matthew 28:6 NIV

I’m Here for You

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One thing the cross teaches us is not to flee when things get hard.  On the cross Jesus was showing us that he could endure when things were tough.  That he could be there for people, though they abandoned him, disappointed him, rejected him.  Jesus knew how to stay when staying was hard.  It’s the nature of God.  Though it pains him, he will keep his promise of love.

Faithful love.  It’s what we all want.  Sometimes we suffer because people are unfaithful in their love for us.  Sometimes we suffer trying to faithfully love others.  Either way, all is solved at the cross.  Jesus goes first in giving and forgiving.  And if we follow him, he gives us strength to do the same.

Remember, in your worst moments, Jesus is with you.  He won’t leave your side.  Ever.  He’s not there because he has to be, he’s not grudgingly hanging around, he’s not tapping his foot or glancing at his watch.  He really loves you.  He wants to be with you.  Even if no one else does.  Do you truly know that?  If so, then you are ready to share it.

Is there some tough place in your world that Jesus intends to show up through you today?  Is there somewhere he’s calling roll hoping you’ll say “I’m here”?

                                          “Love each other as I have loved you.”   John 15:12  NIV